Cover image for The future of Islam and the West : clash of civilizations or peaceful coexistence?
The future of Islam and the West : clash of civilizations or peaceful coexistence?
Hunter, Shireen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1998.
Physical Description:
xi, 195 pages ; 25 cm

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DS65.5.E8 H86 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Shireen Hunter provides a pragmatic analysis of relations between Islam and the West, marked by specific cases from the contemporary Islamic/Western divide. Her book gives a realistic and accurate assessment of the relative role of civilizational factors in determining the nature of the state and the prospects for Muslim-Western relations (i.e., whether they will be conflictual or cooperative). Hunter answers the question: Can an accommodation between Islam and the West take place in a gradual and evolutionary manner or will it happen only after conflict and confrontation? And, contrary to Huntington's vaunted thesis in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (Simon & Schuster, 1996), she finds that the reality of modern Islam offers room for hope.

Hunter challenges many of the prevailing Western views of the Muslim world. For example, despite the widespread belief on the specificity of Islam because of an assumed fusion of politics and religion, in reality the fusion--of the spiritual and the temporal--has not been greater in Islam than in other religions. Therefore, Hunter asserts, the slower pace of secularization in Muslim countries can not be attributed to Islam's specificity. This is a major study that will be of interest to concerned citizens as well as scholars and students of the Middle East and Islam.

Author Notes

SHIREEN T. HUNTER is senior associate in Islamic Studies at CSIS in Washington, D.C. Her many books include Central Asia since Independence (Praeger/CSIS, 1996) and The Transcauccasus in Transition: Nation-Building and Conflict (CSIS, 1994), and she has been a frequent contributor to leading publications such as Foreign Affairs , Foreign Policy , and the Middle East Journal .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Hunter (Islamic Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies) presents a persuasive response to those who see the political and sociocultural challenge presented by contemporary Islamic states and communities as part of a near apocalyptic "Clash of Civilizations." The base assumption of that argument, that Islam, in its confrontation with the West, represents a coherent entity able to mobilize people and resources in the struggle, is fundamentally flawed. There is neither unity nor coherence nor single will in the "Islamic world." In Muslim societies it is more often political rather than religious considerations that drive rulers and governments. Thus Western relations with Muslim polities tend to be, and should continue to be, at the national and leadership levels, since it is at those venues that the numerous, pragmatic accommodations between Muslim and non-Muslim societies take place. Hunter answers her own question: peaceful coexistence and accommodation are not only possible but can be extended and strengthened, since they already exist in the relations between secularly oriented states in the Middle East and between Muslim societies throughout the world and the industrialized, secular West. This book makes eminent good sense, is lucid and clearly presented, and is highly recommended to policy makers, informed readers, and students. V. T. Le Vine; Washington University

Table of Contents

Forewordp. vii
Introductionp. 1
The End of History and the Clash of Civilizationsp. 4
Islam's Saliencep. 11
Evolution of Religion and Secularismp. 18
Real Cause of the Clashp. 19
Goals and Methodologyp. 29
1. Unfolding of the Islamic Experiencep. 31
The Early Islamic Community: Myth and Realityp. 31
Islamic Theory of Society and Polityp. 33
Post-Prophetic Islamic Community: Persistence of Ethnic and Class Distinctions and the Early Fissure of the Communityp. 38
Islamic Conception of International Relations: Theory and Practicep. 59
2. The Islamist Movement and Its Anti-Western Dimensions: Islamic Particularism or Sociopolitical Mutation?p. 69
Origins of the Islamist Phenomenonp. 71
Intensification of the Dualistic Development of Muslim Societiesp. 96
External Causes of the Rise of the Islamist Phenomenonp. 106
Roots of the Islamist Phenomenon's Anti-Western Dimensionsp. 110
3. The Role of Islam in Shaping Foreign Policy: Case Studies of Iran and Saudi Arabiap. 116
Modern Iranp. 116
Saudi Arabia: A Different Kind of Islamic Statep. 151
Conclusions and Outlook for Islam-West Relationsp. 165
Notesp. 171
Select Bibliographyp. 183
Indexp. 191
About the Authorp. 197